In Canada, a handful of companies are carving out a niche for themselves in the ecotouring market.
But they’re not making the same splash as the big names, who have a huge presence in the market.
“It’s a very different world than what we had in the US,” says David MacPherson, who’s been with the Canadian Ecotourists Association since 2005.
He started in 2007 and now manages about 100 volunteers.
He says the Canadian eco-tourism industry is still in its infancy, and that the big players have their own agendas and are still trying to find their footing.
“You don’t necessarily have to look to the big brands to understand what’s going on,” he says.
“We can all tell stories of the things that are going on in our own communities.”‘
There is a sense of a lack of control over the environment’ MacPhersons experience working in the tourism industry is typical of many in the industry.
He’s one of several Canadians who has worked in the sector for years, and says the industry is in a state of flux.
“It’s very much in the early stages right now, it’s not clear what the future holds,” he explains.
The big players ‘It’s hard to find people who are truly passionate about what they do.
People just don’t want to do it,’ says MacPhedson.
“If we can find people with a genuine interest, that’s what’s needed.
In the US, there are some who are really passionate about the cause, but I think they’re also trying to get by on the money they’re making from tourism.”
MacPheeters work has not been a one-man show, but he says it’s always been a collaborative effort.
“I feel like the people who have been doing it for years are the ones who have really been able to get the attention of the people at the top,” he adds.
‘They’re not really prepared’ Ecotouring is still not the industry it once was, says MacPeterson, and he says the key is getting people to see it for themselves.
“People are just not ready to be in a position to tell their own story.”
‘There are a lot of people who want to make a lot more money than they are’ MacPhedons experiences working in tourism have not been kind to the small businesses that he’s worked with.
Some have turned to drugs, he says, and others have been forced to close their businesses.
“They’ve turned to heroin, and they’re still working,” he recalls.
“And that’s not just in Canada.”
And that makes it hard for MacPetersen to see what the eco-industry can accomplish for Canada.
MacPeterson says he’s hopeful that the industry can grow to its potential in Canada.
“There are still a lot people who do this for a living and want to be more financially successful than they would be in the States, so it’s really hard to see that happening in Canada,” he concludes.
“But I think that’s a really exciting place to be.”
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